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PHILADELPHIA - Leg two of the 2015 Coaches Caravan kicked off on Tuesday with a pair of stops before two great crowds in the Philadelphia area.
The Penn State Fullington Trailways rolled out of the Bryce Jordan Center parking lot just after 6:45 a.m. en route to downtown Philadelphia for stop No. 7 of the Caravan inside the Hyatt at the Bellevue. Take a look through highlights from the first two stops of the six-event second week of the Coaches Caravan.
Stop No. 7 - Philadelphia (Hyatt at the Bellevue)
Week two of the Coaches Caravan is set to be a treat for the fans in attendance. The coaching lineup is a who's who of leaders in Happy Valley, featuring Patrick Chambers (men's basketball), James Franklin (football), Russ Rose (women's volleyball) and Cael Sanderson (wrestling). It's rare to have four of the highest profile head coaches sitting in the same room and speaking to a crowd of passionate Penn Staters.
Nearly 100,000 Penn State alums call the Philadelphia area home, and for Chambers and Franklin the stops in Philly are a homecoming. Hailing from Newtown Square, Chambers is always fired up to spend time talking in front of his hometown crowd.
"It's a lot of fun to have a bunch of Philly guys with us here today," Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour said during the program's introduction.
Chambers kicked off the coach speeches on Tuesday with some humor.
"They chose me because I have the most hair of all the coaches," Chambers joked.
The room roared as he continued to poke fun at the other coaches on stage. Chambers has a great deal of positivity to convey about the direction of the Nittany Lion basketball program. From the team's finish at the Big Ten Tournament to the program's incoming recruiting class that ranks as the program's all-time best, the men's hoops program is on its way to a place Chambers is excited about.
"We are taking the right steps," Chambers said. "We are headed in the right direction. We are getting there. It is a process."
Rose followed Chambers with remarks about a University he has called home for the past 36 years. The women's volleyball program's accolades speak for themselves, as do Rose's individual accomplishments. But what makes Rose so unique is that he does not care about the individual awards and honors, he cares more about the well being of Penn State as a whole.
"When Penn State wins a championship in any of our sports, we all win," Rose said. "It's not about individuals or individual teams. When one team wins, we all win."
Continuing with that theme, Sanderson has set the benchmark for success in college athletics, but never draws attention to individual accomplishments. The process of reaching the peak of success is all about approach to Coach Sanderson.
"Whatever you tell your student-athletes, you tell yourself the same thing," Sanderson. "These guys (up here on stage) live what they preach."
Franklin is a living example of what Sanderson talked about. He has spent the first 16 months on campus laying the foundation of the Penn State football program. Franklin believes in the process, and he is embracing the work that goes into being a successful program on the field and in the classroom.
"One of things we love so much about Penn State is the standard (everyone sets)," Franklin said as he looked at his fellow coaches on stage.
All four coaches on the Caravan are tremendous ambassadors for the University, largely because of their passion for the jobs they do. They all love the school and know what it means to be a Penn Stater long after the time when individuals receive their diplomas, much like the crowd in the room.
"It's part of a family and a relationship that carries on for much longer than the four years (people are on campus). That's why it is so special," said Sanderson.
VIDEO: Philadelphia Press Conference
Stop No. 8 - Langhorne (Sheraton Bucks County Hotel)
Following lunch on Broad Street in Center City, the Caravan bus moved to Langhorne for the week's first evening reception. Just four miles from the childhood home of Coach Franklin, a crowd of more than 250 loyal fans attended the program inside the Sheraton Bucks County Hotel.
Several friends and family members of Coach Franklin, including his sister Debbie, spent the evening with the Coaches Caravan in Langhorne. It was a special day all around for Franklin. Visitor after visitor said hello to the leader of the Nittany Lions during both stops throughout a day in his hometown. At the lunch stop, Franklin's second grade school teacher waited in the photo booth line before surprising Franklin.
"It's really cool to be back here today," Franklin said. "This has been a big part of my life, and it's really cool to be back.
The Langhorne crowd was among the best thus far during the two weeks of the Caravan. The group was engaged and lively from start to finish during the program. Barbour opened the evening by explaining to the room how important the "why" is for the growth and development of the department.
"It all begins with the why," Barbour said. "Our purpose at Penn State is about delivering a world class student-athlete experience for more than 800 student-athletes.
You can't begin to think of four better representatives of Penn State's "why" than Chambers, Rose, Sanderson and Franklin.
Chambers has a way of making everyone in the room feeling so positive about Penn State. He led a rousing chant at the beginning of his speech that brought the room to a roar.
He yelled, "it's a great day to be a...." before the fans in the audience finished the remark, "to be a Nittany Lion." Chambers brings so much enthusiasm to a room that is infectious. And when it happens in Philly, his hometown fans love it.
Rose followed Chambers with a speech on why Penn State is truly unique as an athletic department. Every team matters to him. Why? It's because Penn State means everything to Rose, and that's why he has been so prideful as a leader for 36 years.
"I want to thank you for all of the things you do and the dreams and passion you bring to the University," Rose told the crowd.
Sanderson had the crowd in stiches with his one-liners and humor on Tuesday evening, but like the other coaches on stage, his message and passion are clear.
"Penn State is unique, and it's unique because of people like you," said Sanderson.
The Caravan heads to New York City and New Jersey on Wednesday.
VIDEO: Langhorne Press Conference Video
Coaches Caravan Miles Traveled:
Day 1 - 129 miles
Day II - 142 miles
Day III - 444 miles
Day IV - 220 miles
Caravan Total - 935 miles
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